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View Diary: Science Friday: Real Climate (73 comments)

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  •  Maybe Not Gloomy Enough (none)
    As scientists I can see that they don't want to run around pulling their hair out, or they might lose credibility. But there are other things that they haven't mentioned that are true doomsday scenarios and can't be covered by any current model.

    For example, as the earth heats up the amount of methane that is released in the north by the melting of permafrost will surely increase. There is no way right now to accurately know how much methane will be released or how fast (as far as I know). But remember that methane is an even nastier greenhouse gas than CO2.

    Then there are methane hydrates, which they briefly allude to. There is a lot of that stuff at the bottom of oceans. It is highly unstable. To stay in its current form it needs high pressure (which it has at the bottom of the ocean) and cold temperatures. But if the oceans warm even slightly at great depths, a lot of methane could be released, perhaps suddenly.

    The next several years will be critical to our understanding, I think. Models will improve, as will computers. And we'll get more measurements. So we'll see if the heating effect is rising steadily or perhaps increasing.

    The thing that really concerns me is 'runaway greenhouse effect', which sci fi writers have speculated about. At some point the warming of the earth may hit a critical point where so much methane is being released that the earth retains ever more of the sun's energy input. Thereby releasing more methane, ad infinitum. In this case we can kiss our asses goodbye, unless we can learn to live on the surface of Venus real quick.

    Stay tuned to this channel for the next few years. And now for a quick commercial break...

    And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (chuckle) is working very well for them. (Barbara Bush)

    by Krusty on Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 08:59:10 PM PST

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    •  It's hard work collecting data. (none)
      The problem is that since we haven't observed any of the phenomena(conveyor collapse, global warming) before we may not know what we are looking at until it's upon us.  We can make some guesses but we really don't know for sure.

      The interesting thing is that the carbon that was  bound up in fossil fuels wasn't always that way.  Was it in the atmosphere as CO2 or other gasses?  And how did the world change as the carbon began to be slowly removed from circulation?

      We must never lose it, or sell it, or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

      by Fabian on Sun Jan 22, 2006 at 03:18:03 AM PST

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